Fatal Railway Accident, Gillfoot
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THE FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT AT GILLFOOT.
INQUEST AT WHITEHAVEN.
Mr Gordon FALCON, coroner, held an inquest at the Whitehaven Infirmary, on
Wednesday evening, on the body of Henry PATTINSON, station master at Gillfoot,
who, as stated in Wednesday's issue, was fatally injured on Tuesday evening.
Mr John WAUGH was foreman of the jury. Mr W.H. CHAPMAN, solicitor, was present
on behalf of deceased's relatives. Mr POSTLETHWAITE, manager of the Joint
Line, was also present, with several other officials.
John PAUL, Granby Place, Michael Street, Whitehaven, an engine driver for the
Joint Companies (the London and North-Western and Furness Company), said that
on Tuesday he was in charge of an engine at the Gillfoot Junction. They were
close to the Junction when the accident happened. They would be some 200
yards or so from the junction. His train was composed of eighteen loaded wagons
of iron ore. They were coming down to the junction. Deceased was the
stationmaster at Gillfoot Junction. Part of his duty was to help to marshall the
traffic. It was purely a goods station. On the engine there were the deceased,
the fireman (WEIR), witness, and the guard (Isaac MOSSOP). There was no van
at the back of the wagons, and they were running the engine first. It was a
single line. The engine was a side tank one. This was the first journey down
the line. It would be about 4-50 when the accident happened.
The Coroner: What rate were you travelling?
Witness: We would be travelling twelve miles an hour.
Is there any gradient? - The gradient is not marked, and I could not say.
There is a curve - Was it on the curve that the rail broke? - Yes.
The first you would know you would feel something on the engine? -Yes.
What was the effect of this - did the engine leave the rails? - Yes.
Which side went? -The left side.
How far would you go before you stopped or pulled up? - 27 or 28 yards.
Were you able to get the brake on? - No. We let the engine go until it
Did she run to a standstill? - No, the weight behind stopped it. We got some
of the steam off, that was all.
Whereabouts was PATTINSON standing? Whereabouts were you on the engine? -I
was on the right side. I was standing at deceased's side, and when the rail
broke deceased was just behind me.
How did the deceased get hurt? -I could not say. I don't remember a thing
about PATTINSON until the engine came to a stand.
Was PATTINSON on then? -Yes, he was. I do not remember until I saw him on
the ground. he was then in a doubled position.
The Coroner inquired what was broken on the engine near to where witness and
deceased had been standing.
Witness said one of the wagons had caught the coal bunker of the wagon and
broken it away.
They had got to the side of the engineer? -Yes.
They had broken the couplings, I suppose, if they had got to the right-hand
side of you? - No, they held.
Was the weather-board knocked off? - Yes, it had gone with the top
Were any of the other three men injured? - No.
Did you go to see the rail that had broken afterwards? - Yes.
Could you see anything wrong with the rail? - Of course I did not examine it
thoroughly to see. I just saw that the rail was broken, and that had caused
the engine to come off.
Did you see the break? - Yes.
Could you see any flaw? - No.
The Coroner said other evidence would be given with regard to the rail by
someone who had examined it.
Have you been working on that branch long? - No, only since Monday.
So far your evidence amounts to, you can tell us that the breaking of the
rail caused the engine to be derailed? - Yes, sir.
Alexander WEIR, 5, John Street, Moor Row, stated that on Tuesday he was
acting as fireman for PAUL on this train. They had an engine with 13 ore wagons,
and were coming down the junction. They did not know anything was wrong until
after the engine got derailed. He was standing on the left hand side of the
engine. MOSSOP was in front of witnesses. The other two men were on the right
hand side, and PATTINSON was at the back. Witness afterwards examined the
The Coroner: Did you see any flaw in it, or anything bad? - No, sir; I just
saw that it was cracked through.
Richard BUTLER, Moor Row, stated that he was permanent way inspector for the
Joint Companies. The Gillfoot branch was in his district. Before the
accident he was last down there a fortnight or three weeks ago. There were
platelayers under witness who patrolled the place daily. He had examined the rail
after the accident. The rail would be 70lbs. to the yard, and was a double-headed
Do you know how long it has been down? -I should said it has been down 20
Can you form any opinion as to what caused it to break? - Well, I couldn't;
the road is in good repair.
Apart from the road is the rail in good condition? - Yes, it is in good
What should be the life of a rail on a way like that? - I should say it
should last 50 years on a road like that.
The road was in good repair and well ballasted up? -Yes.
Do you think the rail was tight? Were all the keys in? - Yes, all the keys
Were they not tampered with? - No, they were all right.
Fish plates and bolts? - Yes, all were bolted up.
What part of the rail was broken? - It would be a 27ft. rail, and it was
broken about 10ft. from the joint.
Did you examine the rail in the place were the fracture was? -It was a clean
Perfectly new? - Yes, perfectly new.
No signs of a flaw being in it at all? - No, not the slightest.
It is not a rail that has been turned? - No, sir.
Who was it made by? - It was made at Barrow. I could not see the date on it.
Would there be stress on the rail at this particular curve? - It would just
come off the curve. There would be a little bit of stress on the outside rail.
This was the outside rail? -Yes.
The other was the lowest rail? - Yes.
It was not a rail, so far as you could see from inspection, that you would
condemn? - No; the rail was perfect in every way.
Car you form any theory as to what caused it to break? - No, I can't.
Was there anything to make the engine jump at that place? - No.
Twelve miles an hour was not an excessive speed over that place? -No; that is
not very fast.
What would be the weight of one of these engines?
One of the officials said it would be 46 tons.
Mr POSTLETHWAITE, in reply to the Coroner, said he had know the place 21
years ago, and the rails had not been laid during that time.
One of the officials said the whole branch was laid by Mr BOYD about 23 years
ago, and all were with the same railing.
Dr E. BRAITHWAITE stated that he was called to the deceased on Tuesday
evening about five o'clock. He was then on the railway siding at Gillfoot.
Deceased appeared to have been crushed, and witness thought the best thing would be
to have him removed to the Infirmary. Deceased died from the effects of
injuries on the way, and before they got to Corkickle. Deceased was conscious, and
told witness that he was injured on the lower part of his body. He asked
deceased how it had happened, but deceased had no vivid idea of how he had been
crushed. He had examined the body. The injuries were internal.
Mr CHAPMAN: Quite consistent with the crushing happening on the engine? -
Yes, quite consistent.
The Coroner: There can be no suggestion that the injury was got any way but
on the engine.
Mr POSTLETHWAITE said that the wagon had telescoped the coalbox of the
The Coroner said there were other witnesses, but when the expert couldn't say
what caused the rail to break he was afraid they couldn't. The accident had
been caused by the breaking of the rail.
A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned.